Thursday, March 05, 2015


The Justice Department has issued a blistering report on the criminal justice system in Ferguson, Missouri. At BuzzFeed, Adam Serwer explains how the system works in Ferguson, quoting at length from the report.

You're probably aware that Ferguson used the cops and courts to generate tax revenues. How extreme were the fines? From the report:
[O]ur investigation found instances in which the court charged $302 for a single Manner of Walking violation; $427 for a single Peace Disturbance violation; $531 for High Grass and Weeds; $777 for Resisting Arrest; and $792 for Failure to Obey, and $527 for Failure to Comply, which officers appear to use interchangeably.
Now, here's the thing: Isn't this the sort of thing right-wingers ought to be complaining about? Government charging you a three-figure fine for walking wrong, or not cutting your grass properly? Aren't some of these an awful lot like taxes? Don't right-wingers hate taxes? Don't they hate government attempts to micromanage citizens' lives? Isn't turning "high grass and weeds" into a rime punishable by large fines a sort of aesthetic political correctness?

And doesn't the functioning of Ferguson as a municipality reinforce everything right-wingers always say about government efficiency? Again, from the report:
It is often difficult for an individual who receives a municipal citation or summons in Ferguson to know how much is owed, where and how to pay the ticket, what the options for payment are, what rights the individual has, and what the consequences are for various actions or oversights....

And many times, FPD officers omit critical information from the citation, which makes it impossible for a person to determine the specific nature of the offense charged, the amount of the fine owed, or whether a court appearance is required or some alternative method of payment is available....

Even when the court window is technically open, we have seen people standing at the window waiting for a response to their knocks for long periods of time, sometimes in inclement weather -- even as court staff sat inside the police department tending to their normal duties.
A typical Kafkaesque government bureaucracy!

And of course, if you don't respond, you can owe an additional big fine on charges of "Failure to Appear." You can even be arrested. It's like something out of Stalinist commie Russia! Right, conservatives?

Oh, but of course....
Available data show that, of those actually arrested by FPD only because of an outstanding municipal warrant, 96% are African American.
Data collected by the Ferguson Police Department from 2012 to 2014 shows that African Americans account for 85% of vehicle stops, 90% of citations, and 93% of arrests made by FPD officers, despite comprising only 67% of Ferguson’s population.
So I guess it doesn't matter that this is oppressive Big Government using jackbooted-thug powers to restrict citizens' FREEDOM!!!! and shovel more and more cash into the insatiable maw of the bureaucracy -- because, y'know, that stuff doesn't matter when it happens to Those People.


Victor said...

It's ok if it's happening to minorities!

But, the tri-corner aluminum hats and misspelled racist signs will come out, if it happens to a white person - particularly a conservative one.

Anonymous said...

So I guess it doesn't matter that this is oppressive Big Government using jackbooted-thug powers to restrict citizens 'FREEDOM!!!! and shovel more and more cash into the insatiable maw of the bureaucracy -- because, y'know, that stuff doesn't matter when it happens to Those People.

Nope. That's not it.

It's a *democratically-elected* ('respectable citizens') *local* government ('local control') being tough on crime and using the revenue collected ('flat/fair taxes' 'user fees') to keep *honest* *citizens* ('pillars of the community') from being harassed ('good neighborhoods') and the community orderly ('good for business') so it isn't disrupted by *criminals* ('black on black crime' 'thugs' 'evil doers') so that *ordinary* *citizens* ('real voters' 'property owners') can get things done ('good for business').

The police are doing their jobs, according to the next ten thousand local columnists and respectable citizens who write letters to the editors.

Or as the police would tell you in an honest moment, they're getting paid to make sure the jiggaboos don't scare off the white people and kill sales and keep them out of the nice (white) neighborhoods where the thugs would loot the liquor and guns and rape the white women.

Our lovely friends care quite a lot that police departments like Ferguson keep on keeping on.

['My dogs are barking up a storm.']

Grung_e_Gene said...

Contrary to popular belief and the motto's stenciled on squad cars, Police Departments were not created to 'Serve & Protect' and keep the peace but, to exert control over the poor and working class.

The creation of the Modern Police Force in the United States coincided with increases in immigration, the Industrial Revolution, and the end of Slavery. As such Police Departments were tasked by the Ruling elite to keep the American Working Class, immigrants and minorities in check.

Modern innovations on this are the transformation of police officers into revenue generators and whom do you think they will naturally target, I wonder?

But, Max wrote it more artfully.

mlbxxxxxx said...

Max is hitting on it but it also is that conservatives say all government is bad so when government is bad, why it just proves them right. Ergo, in the bizarro world they inhabit, bad government is good. It's why they put hacks like Michael Brown in charge of important government services like FEMA.